Monday, January 29, 2024

Bill Stewart!

Thanks to Wordpress user and YouTuber James Sedge who shared this great bird's-eye view footage of Bill Stewart in action with John Scofield and Vicente Archer:

Photo by James Sedge www.gigexperience.home.blog

(anyone care to comment on what cymbals Bill is playing here?)

Monday, January 22, 2024

Drum Battle with Kenny Washington & Joe Farnsworth

Thank you to Joe Farnsworth for sharing a preview of his "percussion discussion" with Kenny Washington, from a recent hit at New York's Smoke jazz club, part of their Max Roach Centennial Celebration.

editors note: I think that the term "Drum Battle" may be a bit misleading here as it could imply that someone ones wins and someone loses. However, personally I think that when two drummers like this join forces on the bandstand, in fact, everyone wins!

Monday, January 15, 2024

Olio! - Decidedly Jazz Danceworks

And...we're back.

It's already been a busy start to the New Year 2024 but I had a wonderful time attending the JEN conference in New Orleans and I'm already plotting my return to the Crescent City (after all, one can never get enough beignets and chicory coffee...)

A quick shout-out to a bunch of great musicians I heard and all the great people I hung out with who made my trip such an inspiring and memorable experience:

Peter Erskine
Jeff Hamilton
Allison Miller
Rudy Royston
Ignacio Berroa
Johnny Vidacovich
Quincy Davis
Will Kennedy
Jason Marsalis
Matt Wilson
McClenty Hunter
Carl Allen
Shannon Powell
Justin Varnes
John and Mari Jo deWaal
Paul Read and Trish Colter
Natalie Wilson

So what's happening?

Well, as usual, things are on the go these days and I am currently working with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Canada's premier contemporary jazz dance company, on their new production of Olio.

The show runs opens on Thursday, January 18th and runs until January 28th, part of the annual 38th annual 2024 High Performance Rodeo

For ticket information please visit www.decidedlyjazz.com

Olio means a stew, or a collection of thing, and in this case it’s an exciting new performance created by five dynamic choreographers: company dancers Catherine Hayward, Sabrina Naz Comanescu and Kaja Irwin; DJD alumnus, Deanne Walsh; and DJD artistic director Kimberley Cooper. 

The music is played by a trio led by myself on drums with Jonathan Wielebnowski on bass and Chris Tauchner on piano.

I'm really excited about this upcoming show and very proud of this particular production. I've been fortunate to have worked with DJD since 2011 on over a dozen or so shows and projects, all under the musical leadership of bassist and composer Rubim De Toledo. However, for this show I was invited by Kimberley Cooper to be the musical director, to work with each of the choreographers and to offer my own musical ideas and stylistic contributions. 

It is a tremendous honour to work not only with such a great company and talented group of artists but also to have the opportunity to contribute my own original music, compositions and arrangements to their creations.

Last Fall 2023 was quite busy between developing ideas and going back and forth with all the individual choreographers but it's been an exciting ongoing collaborative process. Now that we are only mere days away from our opening night, it's really interesting to see and hear how the choreography and music has come to life and evolved over the last few months. It's really something special to be a part of and I'm very proud of what we've accomplished.

The music for Olio is eclectic, quite diverse and all falls under the giant wide umbrella that is called Jazz. It swings, sings the blues, is up-beat, it's slow and introspective, funky, very rhythmic, it shimmers, rumbles and tumbles and everything in between. It's really been an amazing experience working with Catherine, Sabrina, Kaja and Deanne who all bring so much imagination and passion to their craft. I also really sincerely appreciate Kim for being so supportive, putting her trust in my musical abilities and for inviting me to create the music for this project.

I always find my involvement with DJD to be a creative challenge and enjoy reaching deep and far and wide rhythmically, using the drum set orchestrally to give each piece what it needs, in a unique way that serves both the music and the dance. This show is no different and I've really learned a lot from the compositional and creative process that emerged over the last four months. I think anyone who listens to the music I've written (expressed so musically, I might add, by Chris Tauchner on piano and Jonathan Wielebnowski on bass) will hopefully experience a wide range of my influences, both as a drummer and composer. 

*here's some insider info: both Duke Ellington's Money Jungle album recorded with Max Roach and Charles Mingus in 1962 and Terri Lyne Carrington's 2013 sonic re-imagination of the same album were both significant influences for this project (among others)...but you'll have to hear it for yourself*

This show is definitely a career highlight for me and I really hope you enjoy watching this show as much as we do performing it!

For more information visit: www.decidedlyjazz.com

(photo by Kimberley Cooper)

Monday, January 1, 2024

The Monday Morning Paradiddle - January 2024

And...we're back.

Thanks for checking in over the holidays and I'd thought start off the year 2024 with a percussive blog post bang. So please enjoy the January 2024 edition of The Monday Morning Paradiddle, my more-or-less monthly jazz drumming variety column. 

Hey, I'm going to be in New Orleans this week, attending the Jazz Education Network's annual JEN Conference. It's my first time attending this conference and this will also my first time in the Crescent City. So if you are also going to be there please drop me a line and I'd be delighted to connect. Check my social media feeds (Instagram @fouronthefloorblog in particular) for regular updates.

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The Monday Morning Paradiddle - January 2024

1. When someone says that Jazz is Dead these days, I usually shake my head but I'm actually often curious as to what they are listening to (or more importantly, what they aren't listening to!) Tim Mah's annual list of recommended Canadian jazz albums (see last week's blog post) always highlights the great things happening up here in the Great White North. Please take a read and check out some amazing new music.

Similarly, Ottawa's Peter Hum is also on the pulse of current happenings in Canadian jazz so please check out his excellent year-end list here as well, found in the Ottawa Citizen.

2. A wonderful article and tribute to the late Tony Oxley from the always informed and articulate Vinnie Sperrazza


3.  Allison Miller interviewed by The Midnight Disease, The Jazz Session and the Working Drummer Podcast on the heels of her incredible new release Rivers of Our Veins

4. And also from Matthew Crouse's Working Drummer Podcast this fantastic interview with Ra Kalam Bob Moses

5. Award-winning drummer, author, historian and educator Daniel Glass interviewed by The Drummer's Pathway

6. A fascinating piece from the CBC on the late Charlie Watts' collection of drums including those owned and played by Max Roach, Joe Morello and Tony Williams

7. Thanks to Craig VanDerSchaegen who shared this fantastic interview with Billy Higgins:

Here's what Ron Carter had to say about Billy Higgins: 

8. Time to Connect interviews Johnathan Blake:

9. Nasheet Waits on Max Roach:

10. My teacher and mentor John Riley interviewed by The Back of the Band Room:

11. Some wisdom from Lewis Nash:

12. Kenny Washington returns to the Drum Candy Podcast:

13. It wouldn't be a Monday Monday Paradiddle without some videos from Quincy Davis' excellent ongoing Q-Tips series:

14. Marcus Gilmore takes a spin on his Sonor drums:

15. Willie Jones III with Roy Hargrove, Michael Brecker and Herbie Hancock:

16. Thanks to the prolific Todd Bishop over at Cruiseship Drummer who hipped me to this duet of Peter Erskine and Bob Mintzer from the album Hymn:


17. Kyle Poole unleashes on a spirited version of Cherokee:

18. Okay dig this...Art Taylor playing trio with John Coltrane and Paul Chambers circa. 1958:


19. What am I listening to these days?

Duke Ellington "Money Jungle" - Max Roach (drums)

Nate Smith "Pocket Change" - Nate Smith (drums)

Dexter Gordon "Our Man in Paris" - Kenny Clarke (drums)

Jerry Gonzalez & The Fort Apache Band "Rumba Buhaina" - Steve Berrios (drums)

Peter Erskine Trio "As It Was: ECM Old and New Masters Series" - Peter Erskine (drums)

20. And today's Final Word comes from the great Victor Lewis:

“You just got to be cool. And if you’re not cool, then you should be cool. Because THAT’S COOL!”

- Victor Lewis 

(via Vancouver's Bruce Nielsen)

As always, when the Masters speak, we listen.

Thank you for all your continued support and hope to see you all in the year ahead 2024 (which will incidentally also be the 15th anniversary of this blog!)